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Taken 3

8/10

Stars: Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Dougray Scott,Sam Spruell, Jon Gries, Leland Orser, Al Sapienza, Andrew Howard, Dylan Brune

Director: Olivier Megaton

Some self-important sneering aloud by several clearly intellectually-a-cut-above fellow critics, at various obvious but necessary plot points, confirmed what I had already realised about Liam Neesonís latest serving of action-driven violence and suspense.

Itís simply a slick audience-aimed action thriller with no artistic intentions.

But since itís patently a sequel, the makers would have been pretty stupid to abandon the formula of the bloody exploits of the violent but justified revenge-seeker who made the previous two instalments a success.

Producer Luc Besson and co-writer Robert Mark Kamenís fast-moving (once the essential motivation for Neesonís continuing tsunami of violence has been established) finds former covert operative Neeson framed for the murder of his ex-wife, going on the run from the CIA, FBI and the police, and out to kill the real killersÖ

Director Olivier Megaton creates commendable suspense given that itís obvious from the start that Neeson will win through by the end and sort out the assorted, mostly Russian villains, while staying a step ahead of pursuing L.A. Inspector Forest Whitaker and his men.

Bullets fly fast, loose and often, there are adrenaline-surging car chases (Neeson gets from L.A. to Santa Monica airport in a hijacked Porsche so fast it was hard to credit he wasnít driving a jet-powered automobile) and a plot that, if hardly brain-bending, is more than a satisfactory Porsche-level vehicle for the thrills and spills on offer.

Itís essentially (and rightly) the Liam Neeson show and he doesnít disappoint, recreating a character he has already honed in the two previous episodes. The various villains are suitably nasty and, interestingly, for once L.A. is largely depicted as smog-ridden.

And, by setting the shenanigans in L.A. and Malibu, the makers have saved themselves a fortune by not having to follow Neeson around Darkest Europe as was the case in the first two films.

Itís quite obviously not a work of art but, forcefully driven by Megaton and impressively edited by Audrey Simonaud and Nicolas Trembasiewicz, Taken 3 delivers what multiplex moviegoers are seeking Ė a fast and furious action movie whose whole comes over as faster and more furious than its parts, if hardly likely to remain in the brain for long. Suspend disbelief, abandon subtext seeking and simply settle for lashings of smartly contrived thrills and spills rather than cinematic groundbreaking.

Bryan Mills/Neeson fans should get their moneyís worth in action alone Ė and without a single Korean villain on display either.

Alan Frank

France 2015. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour by deluxe.
106 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 05 Jan 2015